Key to Umbria: Città di Castello

Santa Maria delle Grazie (1363-81)

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact 


Città di Castello:  Home    History    Art    Saints    Walks    Monuments    Museums

The Servites moved here from their original site outside Porta Sant’ Andrea in 1306.  The original church o the site was effectively rebuilt in 1363 and consecrated in 1381. 

When Angela de’ Rossi, the widow of Alessandro Vitelli, died at the nearby Palazzo Vitelli a Porta San Giacomo in 1573, she was buried in Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The church was restructured following earthquakes in 1703 and 1789.

The Servites were expelled in 1861.  The church was subsequently looked after by the Compagnia della Madonna delle Grazie (which had been formed in 1514).  They organised the rebuilding of the apse.

The Servites returned in 1951-62, after which the church became a parish church.  It reopened in December 2013, following the repair of  damage it had suffered in an earthquake earlier that year.



The campanile is at the end of the left wall, in Piazza dei Servi.  The Gothic portal in left wall  survives to the right of it, although the fresco in its lunette is barely legible.  The Oratorio di Santa Maria delle Grazie (below) was built to the right in 1489.


Relics from the Pieve di Saddi


Monsignor Pompilio Mandrelli, who was the archpriest of Pietralunga in 1933-63, translated a reliquary from the Pieve di San Crescentino de’ Saddi to Santa Maria delle Grazie.  A list by the reliquary (in the 3rd bay on the left) claims that it contains relics of St Crescentian and of all the other martyrs of Saddi:

  1. St Justin;

  2. St Grivicianus;

  3. St Faustinus;

  4. St Virianus;

  5. St Orphitus;

  6. St Esuperantius;

  7. St Benedict;

  8. St Eutropius; and

  9. St Fortunatus.

Assumption of the Virgin (ca. 1436)

This fresco in the chapel off the right wall is attributed to Ottaviano Nelli.  It was discovered under plaster on the right wall of the church in 1630 and moved here soon after. 

Trinity (1639)

This panel in the altar in the 4th bay on the right, which Bernardino Gagliardi painted for the Confraternita della SS Trinità, is now in Santa Maria delle Grazie.  At the request of the confraternity, it was based on the altarpiece (1625) by Guido Reni in the church of the Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome.

Cure of St Peregrine Laziosi (17th century)

This panel on the 1st altar on the right  is attributed to Giovanni Ventura Borghesi.  It depicts St Peregrine Laziosi being miraculously cured of cancer of the leg as he prayed before a crucifix.

Altarpiece (ca. 1700)

This altarpiece of the Virgin with the seven founders of the Servite Order, which is now in the sacristy, is attributed to Giovanni Ventura Borghesi.

Oratorio di Santa Maria delle Grazie (1489)


As explained above, this chapel was built on the left to house the highly venerated image of Santa Maria dell Grazie:

  1. its original entrance (illustrated above) survives in Piazza dei Servi; and

  2. an communicating arch (illustrated here) was opened in the left wall of the church in 1695, to a design by Giovanni Ventura Borghesi.

Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels (1456)


                                               Venerated image                                Cover

This highly venerated image is in a tabernacle on the altar of the oratory.  It is covered by a decorated shutter, but exposed each year during the celebration of the feast of Santa Maria delle Grazie (26th August) and that of the Purification of the Virgin (2nd February).  The precious image was profaned by French soldiers in 1798, during the city’s “liberation”.  This was one of the sparks that led to a subsequent riot, after which the city was sacked.

The image depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Floridus and Philip Benizi and two angels, one of whom (on the right) holds a model of Città di Castello.  As set out above, it was commissioned for an aedicule in the street to the left of the church.  The painted inscription translates: “Oh you who pass, pay honour to the Virgin Mary: 1456: Giovanni di Piamonte.  It is [the only known work of this artist], whose style is close to that of Piero della Francesca.  [Is the panel of St Michael and Tobias in San Giovanni Valdarno signed or simply attributed to him?]  The inscription along the base of the tabernacle says that it was commissioned by the Commune at the time of the prior, Leonardo da Siena.

Scenes from the Life of the Virgin (1641-3)

The frescoes in the lunettes high up on the walls of the oratory, which are attributed to Bernardino Gagliardi, were damaged in the earthquake of 1789 and only partially restored.  The one illustrated here depicts the Birth of the Virgin.

Art from the Church

Madonna and Child with Saints (1493)

Payments were made in 1493 to Luca Signorelli for this altarpiece for the high altar.  It was in the sacristy in ca. 1726, when it was said to depict the Madonna and Child with SS Floridus, Peter, Paul and Amantius.  Unfortunately, it no longer survives. 

Choir Stalls and Cabinet (1501)

This inlaid wooden furniture in Room VII of the Pinacoteca Comunale, which came from the sacristy, comprises:
  1. a central section with five doors and 13 inlaid panels (eleven back panels and two side panels) above; and

  2. two side benches.

The inscription in the second panel from the right records that Antonio Bencivenni da Mercatello executed the work in 1501 for the prior, Brother Severus of Cesena.

The middle panel is now missing: given that the panels to the sides of it depict instruments of the Passion, it probably contained a scene of the Crucifixion or the Pietà.  four coats of arms are depicted, belonging to: Bishop Giulio Vitelli; the Brozzi and Bufalini families; and the Servite Order.

Works Attributed to Raffaellino del Colle

Three works attributed to Raffaellino del Colle were transferred from the church to the Pinacoteca Comunale in 1912.

Annunciation (ca. 1528)

This panel has long been attributed to Raffaellino del Colle.  A record of it from 1728 asserts that it came from the Altare dell’ Annunciazione (the 3rd on the left), which Antonio Sellari had financed in 1528.  He frequently served in the militia of the Vitelli family, and the chapel apparently contained both the Sellari and Vitelli arms.

Three predella panels in the Pinacoteca Comunale, each of which depicts three saints, probably belonged to this altarpiece.

Deposition (ca. 1552)

This panel, which has long been attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, seems to have belonged to an altar that Bartolomeo Albizini financed in 1552.  If this is correct, Raffaellino painted it soon after he returned from a period in Florence.  It is very similar to a panel by Francesco Salviati in Santa Croce, Florence: the relative chronology of the two works is not known.

Agostino Tofanelli, the Director of the Musei Capitolini, Rome attempted to confiscate the altarpiece 1813, but (as Cristina Galassi - referenced below -has shown) the local authorities were able to resist because it was still in use in the church.  (The relevant research by Christina Galassi is referenced in the page on the artist).

A number of small panels in the Pinacoteca (six depicting angels holding the instruments of the Passion and five depicting scenes from the Passion) were recently recognised as having come from this altarpiece, and are now exhibited beside it. 

Presentation of the Virgin (ca. 1560)

This panel, which is attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, was in the altar under the organ, to the side of the high altar, which belonged to the Bruni family.  It was apparently commissioned originally by the Uccellari family.  The Servites tried to sell the panel in 1823, but this was forbidden by the Commune. 

Return to Monuments of Città di Castello.

Return to the Walk II.